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In the years since I've left the military, I'll admit I've gotten rather bitter. I'm a little mad about some of the things I went through, some of which were my own fault. Every year, though, Veterans Day always makes me kinda mad. So this may come off as a little ranty, but I don't care. I appreciate all Veterans, and what they did, and my military family, which I still love, even if I don't like every part of it. But, since this is my journal, I gotta express stuff sometimes.

I woke up this morning and on my f-list I was greeted with a post in a military community. It was beautifully written, and it struck emotions, but probably not the ones the writer intended.

For my Brothers in Arms still serving and in harms way this day, I give thanks. For those who just joined our ranks on this hallowed day, I say welcome Brother.

Brother. After all, the military is for men, right? I know it's crazy, but it made my heart sink. After all, I'm not a brother. I can never be a brother. And no matter how hard I try, for some people my military service will never equal the sacrifices of our men in uniform. This is true for both fellow service members and the public at large. I still get funny looks from people when I tell them I was in the military. When I hear guys in class say they were in the military, students always reply with "Wow, so where did you go?" When I state I was in the military, the reaction is more incredulous. "Really? I mean, really? I never would have expected." Yeah, I know. We say women are in the military, but most of the general public doesn't believe it.

It brings out mixed feelings, really. Most people know enough to speak of men and women in uniform. And it's left there. As if that's it. After all, the military is integrated, so as long as we use gender-inclusive or gender-neutral terms, it's all good. I'm happy and sad about this. Happy that people don't really know what goes on with gender relations in the military. After all, the military looks bad enough right now. If people really knew what it was like that image would tarnish, change. And it would make my service worth less. And yet, I also feel the need to find the highest tower and scream it to the world. For all it sacrifices men in the military make, women make more. It's a horrible situation, and especially more so for the fact that the military and the government tries very hard to keep it under wraps. It's kinda like a victim of a crime like domestic violence or assault: you don't want anyone to know, because you're embarrassed, yet you want everyone to know because then they would work harder to stop it. Maybe prevent your pain from passing on to others.

After all, if you're in the military you're tough. People never think about how a woman has to be MORE tough. MORE capable. You have to exceed the boys at everything or you're just a liability. And yet you have to figure out how to exceed without appearing to exceed, because if you obviously outdo the men then they ostracize you. In the military it's still a stigma to be beat by a girl in anything. So you have to be really good, but you still can't measure up.

Then there's the personality double standard. In my first year of the military I was taken into a private conversation with an upper enlisted woman who saw promise in me. She told me that in the military men view women in two ways. You can either be a bitch or a slut. Sluts are any woman who sleeps with another man in the military. Doesn't matter if it's a monogamous, long-term relationship, if you're sleeping with another military member then you're fair game. And sluts are to sleep with, not to listen to. Sluts don't get respect. Bitches never sleep with anyone. They don't have a lot of friends. But they get careers, they get promoted, and they get listened to. They might have to demand that respect, and from some it will always be begrudging and hollow, but at least they get promoted. They get to stay. So decide, now, if you will be a bitch or a slut, and remember it. That conversation still sticks with me today. I know I stopped dressing well as a result of it. And I still worry, even though I'm in college and officially discharged, whether being friends with males I work with means they will no longer respect me and my positional authority, or whether cutting my hair in a flattering way will hurt the way my professors look at me. On one hand I appreciate it, because some women fail all their life without realizing that they are positioning themselves as worthless to other people, so other people view them as worthless. On the other hand, I wish I had a better self-image, that I could find a way to not be the bitch without feeling like the slut.

So today, on Veterans day, as you respect the sacrifices of our men in the military, please spare a moment to think specifically of the sacrifices of women in uniform, and what they go through in order to secure our country.

203,000 active duty women serve in the military as of Sept. 30, 2005. Of that total, 35,000 women were officers, and 168,000 were enlisted. Women are 15% of the military forces, and there are 1.7 million military veterans who are women.

1 in 7 people serving in Iraq are female.

67.2% of Army jobs are open to women, 94.0% of Navy jobs, 99.7% of Air Force jobs, and 62.0% of Marine Corps jobs. However, 35% of enlisted slots and 30% of officer slots on United States Navy ships are closed to women, and there are no plans to increase this number due to the lack of ability to structurally modify small ships and submarines in order to accommodate women. Thus, although 13.8% of enlisted personnel and 14.7% of officers in the Navy are women, only 6% of enlisted naval ship personnel are women, and only 12% of seafaring officers.

The perceived differences between assignments that are open or closed to women within a career might have two different kinds of effects. If women are precluded from career-enhancing assignments or jobs perceived as being key to occupational development (such as assignments in tactical level units), women are unlikely to be evaluated as highly and are thus unlikely to experience the same levels or career success. If women are precluded from filling assignments that are considered to be less attractive or even detrimental to careers, women might find themselves resented by their male peers. In these instances, a cultural resistance to gender integration can develop. Such cultural resistance is increasingly likely as larger numbers of women populate such occupations, enhancing the perception that men are taking "more of their fare share" of less-appealing assignments.

According to a 2005 VA study of 168,528 Iraqi veterans, 20 percent were diagnosed with psychological disorders, including 1,641 with PTSD. percent to 10 percent of active-duty women and retired military women who served in Iraq suffer from PTSD. Studies show that U.S. women serving in Iraq suffer from more pronounced and debilitating forms of PTSD than their male counterparts.

As of August 17, 2007, 76 Females died while involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, compared with 3584 Males. While this is a small percentage of the total, these deaths exceed the number of military women killed in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf war combined.

Recent estimates suggest that domestic violence in the military rose from 18.6 per 1000 in 1990 to 25.6 per 1000 in 1996. These are the same men that are expected to welcome women as fellow service members.

27% of men have experienced military sexual trauma. 60% of women have experienced military sexual trauma.

3.5% of men have experienced military sexual assault. 23% of women have experienced military sexual assault.

11% of women have experienced rape. 1.2% of men have experienced rape. These are only reported numbers. The Veterans service exit polls show that 28% of all female service members were raped during their time in service. Reports must be made to chaplains, predominantly male chaplains, and in order for an investigation to be launched against the attacker the victim must make a public statement. Yet while the investigation goes on the victim must remain at their post, interacting every day with their attacker, who may be their superior in their job, and his "buddies". The military's answer to this problem is to create a method for women to report rape and get help anonymously, but there can still be no investigation without a public statement.

Service branch with the highest percentage of women reporting sexual trauma: Marine Corps Perhaps related: the Marine Corps personnel are 6% female, compared to 14% of the Army, 14.5% of the Navy, and 19.7% of the Air Force.

20% of women seeking care at VA facilities have experienced sexual trauma. 1% of men seeking care at VA facilities have experienced sexual trauma. 8.3 percentage of women report lifetime PTSD related to MST.

More than half of the incidents took place at a military work site and during duty hours. The majority of the offenders in these cases were military personnel. Factors that increase risk of sexual assault for active duty females include presence of officers who condone or allow sexual harassment and unwanted sexual attention.

Things you should read:



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December 2010

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